Gaining access to your car can be a chore. Find keys, fumble with keys, drop keys, realise you’re going to have to put things down to open the door… Toyota’s Smart Key Box is hoping to change all that. Even though that’s not its actual intention.
The Smart Key Box is a little Toyota addition that adds a very special Bluetooth function to vehicles that it is installed in. The aftermarket (for now) device allows the doors to be unlocked using a Bluetooth key that is stored on a smartphone — the same sort of feature that can be seen on some advanced home smartlocks.
The idea is that the vehicle’s owner (you, for example) can send a Bluetooth key to someone else (a friend, perhaps, or a customer who is renting the vehicle) and they will be able to use the phone to open and start the car. Owners will be able to set the time that the virtual key is active, as well as how long it is active for, making it perfect for a car-sharing service.
Which is the industry where the first real-world tests are taking place. The Toyota Smart Key Box will be undergoing tests in San Francisco in 2017 with a car-sharing service called Getaround. The vehicles that will be used in the trials will be new Prius models or several Lexus models. It seems Toyota is keen on the car-sharing bandwagon. Several other auto-makers have already made inroads into car-sharing, with services open in cities around the world already.
Source: The Verge